The first is the administration of an agreed Code of Practice and the investigation of complaints from members of the public about editorial content in the media. The second is the defence of press freedom. Some Press Councils fulfil explicitly only the first function – but in doing so must balance the rights of the individual and the rights of the press to freedom of expression.
Press Councils are self-regulatory bodies set up by the media themselves – although they are normally given a high degree of operational independence in order to maintain public confidence. They oversee Codes of Practice which set out both professional standards for journalists, and a set of rules under which people featured in the news media can complain if something is inaccurate or intrusive.
These Codes generally contain ethical rules that are over and above legal requirements.
Press Councils represent a form of corporate responsibility which allow people to complain for free and without legal representation, and can help generate trust in the quality of news.